Blackhawks at Oilers Picks and NHL Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 4/24/2013
The Chicago Blackhawks say they don't care about winning the Presidents' Trophy given to the team with the most points in the NHL's regular season. I tend to believe them as it seems to be a curse. Since the Presidents’ Trophy was created for the 1985-86 season, just seven teams that earned it also hoisted the Stanley Cup. Last year the Canucks won the Trophy for the second year in a row and were knocked off in five games by the No. 8 L.A. Kings, the eventual Cup champs.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was coach of the St. Louis Blues in 1999-2000 when St. Louis put up 114 points for the Presidents' Trophy only to lose in the first round. The Blackhawks have won the Trophy once, in 1990-91, and were stunned by the Minnesota North Stars in the first round. Detroit was the last team to win the Trophy and the Cup in 2007-08.
Chicago already has locked down the West's top seed and leads Pittsburgh by three points for the Presidents' Trophy, and each team has three to play. The Pens probably will win out: They hosted Buffalo on Tuesday and close at New Jersey and home to Carolina. The Hawks visit Edmonton on Wednesday and close at home vs. Calgary and then at St. Louis. The Blues might have playoff positioning for play for that day.
As for the Oilers, they will miss the playoffs again: Their last postseason game was June 19, 2006 at Raleigh, N.C., in losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Hurricanes. I'd bet the Oilers return to the playoffs next year as they are stacked with young talent and will have yet another lottery pick.
Blackhawks at Oilers Betting Story Lines
The Hawks may already have taken their foot off the pedal in order to rest up for the playoffs. They lost 3-1 at Vancouver on Monday night, their second straight defeat for only the third time all year. Quenneville called Monday's defeat the team's worst of the year as Chicago was outskated, outshot, outhit, pretty much out-everythinged. Corey Crawford has been in net for the losses with Ray Emery, who is an absurd 16-1-0 this season, nursing a minor leg injury. Emery could start Wednesday, and the Hawks also could welcome back forwards Patrick Sharp and Michael Handzus and defenseman Michal Rozsival after all sat out Monday. Sharp (five goals, 13 assists) hasn't played since April 12, so no doubt the team wants to get him in game condition.
Edmonton has fallen apart to close the year, losing eight of nine games and scoring one goal or fewer in seven of them. Before this skid, the Oilers were No. 8 in the West. Now they will continue the longest active playoff drought in the NHL. Like most teams, the Oilers are banged up this time of year. Forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder), Ales Hemsky (foot) and Lennart Petrell (leg) all are done for the year. It's been a rough season for RNH, one of those young future stars on the Oilers. He had 52 points in 62 games last season as an 18-year-old but just four goals and 20 assists in 40 games this season.
The Oilers have two terrific rookies this year in defenseman Justin Schultz and forward Nail Yakupov. Schultz leads all rookie defensemen with 23 points, while Yakupov, the 2012 No. 1 overall pick (team's third straight No. 1 overall after Taylor Hall and Nugent-Hopkins), is third among rookies with 25 points (11 goals).
The Oilers have given Chicago some problems this year. Edmonton lost in Chicago 3-2 in overtime on Feb. 25, which at the time was the Hawks' 19th straight game with a point to open the season. Chicago tied the game late in the third period on a goal by Viktor Stalberg and won it on Marian Hossa's OT tally. Chicago's record points streak ended a few weeks later, March 8 in Colorado, and the Hawks also lost their next game, 6-5 at home to Edmonton. The Oilers were up 4-0 a little more than midway through the first period against the flat Hawks but had to hold on for dear life. Emery was pulled midway through the period. Sam Gagner had two goals for the Oilers and Patrick Kane two for Chicago.
Blackhawks at Oilers NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Chicago opened at -157 and Edmonton +143 with the total at 5.5. The Hawks are 18-23-4 “over/under” (9-13 on road) and the Oilers are 13-25-7 O/U (5-12-5 at home).
Chicago is 4-1 in its past five after scoring two goals or fewer in its previous game. The Oilers are 0-4 in their past four games following a loss of three or more goals. They are 7-3 in their past 10 games following a home loss of three or more goals. The under is 4-0 in Chicago's past four on one day of rest. The under is 3-0-1 in Edmonton's past four on one day of rest. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings. Chicago is 1-4 in the past five.
Blackhawks at Oilers Picks and Betting Predictions
Because Crawford has started three straight for Chicago, I expect Emery in net presuming he is healthy. It could be an audition because the Oilers are likely to be in the market for a free-agent goalie to replace Nikolai Khabibulin, and Emery could be a fit. Khabibulin started Monday for Edmonton, so I would guess that No. 1 Devan Dubnyk gets the call here. He started that 6-5 win over the Hawks but left after allowing two goals in about 30 minutes with a minor injury.
While the Hawks have little to play for, I don't think they want to lose three straight this year, especially after being ripped by their coach following Monday's loss. Plus, Emery will be ready to make amends for getting shelled in the last outing against the Oilers (it wasn't his lone official loss, however). Take Chicago and the over.
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